Applying for a mortgage? Gather the home loan documents you need
Oct. 12, 2023
3 min read
What we'll cover
Documents needed to get a loan
What proof of income and employment is
How to calculate your debt-to-income ratio
While house hunting and Zillow scrolling can be fun, actually applying for a home loan or starting themortgage pre-approvalor loan estimate process involves paperwork — there's no way around it. Your lender will ask for certain documentation, such as tax returns, pay stubs and bank statements.
It may seem like an overwhelming number of documents, so we've compiled a useful checklist to make it easy.
Providing proof of income and employment allows a lender to determine that you make enough money to cover the monthly cost of your mortgage. It can include:
Proof of W-2 wage earnings: If you earn a paycheck from one employer, you can provide your two most recent pay stubs and W-2 statements for the past year. If you earn overtime, bonus or shift differentials, your lender may want to see a most recent personal end-of-year payroll stub.
Proof of self-employed, freelancer, and independent contractor income: Your lender may want more documentation if you earn self-employment income, contract income or revenue from your business, including an S-corporation or partnership.
Proof of real estate income: You'll likely need to document any rental income if you're using it to qualify for a mortgage. You may need your most recent annual personal tax return and a signed lease, especially if you did not claim rental income on your most recent tax return.
Tax returns: Lenders want to confirm you've paid taxes, so you must provide two years' worth of federal tax returns. Tax returns also help explain and establish your income's complete financial picture.
Social Security number: Lenders will use your identification number to check your credit score and credit report.
Evidence of assets
In the loan application or pre-approval process, assessing your assets ensures you can cover the cost of your mortgage loan, fees and closing costs. (Closing costs usually range between 2 and 5% of your home's price.)
Bank statements: Have at least two months' worth of statements on hand, including the full transaction history and current balances.
Retirement and brokerage account statements: If you're using these accounts to qualify for a mortgage loan, your lender may require 60 days of statements from individual retirement accounts (IRAs), 401(k)s, 403(b)s, 529(s), other investment accounts and certificates of deposit (CDs).
Documentation of your debt
Next, your lender wants to know about debt. You can calculate your debt-to-income ratio (DTI), a critical standard that every lender reviews as part of your mortgage application.
Monthly debt payments: You will likely need the most recent statements for any outstanding debt you have — student loans, car loans, credit card bills, personal loans, home equity lines of credit, etc.
Real estate debt: If you have a mortgage on your current property or have a mortgage on rental property, be ready to provide your most recent statement. Check that the paperwork includes your loan information and your homeowners insurance policy's declaration page.
Additional records you may need
Once you've detailed your income, assets and debts, you're in the mortgage documents homestretch. A lender might need a few more pieces of paperwork. Be prepared to provide proof of the following so there are no surprises come loan application time:
Rent: If you’re a renter, you may need proof of payment for the past 12 months and the contact information of your landlords for the past two years.
Divorce: If you've had one, you'll likely need a full copy of your divorce decree to verify any recurring payments (including alimony).
Bankruptcy and foreclosure: If you have any recent "dings" on your credit report, especially bankruptcies, foreclosures and short sales, your lender may need release documents to confirm the loan settlement date.